the politics of food forum: Cooperative Extension in peril

 
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ImageKathleen
Jun 8, 2010 4:54 AM CST
Name: Kathleen Tenpas
Wickwire Corners NY
Our county legislators have decided that, in the county with the third highest concentration of farms in the state of New York, to quit funding the Cornell Cooperative Extension and 4H. This is as shortsighted a move as I have ever seen!
ImageDorothy
Jun 8, 2010 6:23 AM CST
Name: Dorothy
ADK mountains
Very sad. I guess we need to spend the money on other things, like what? Food stamps? What good are they if there's no food?

From what I've read food costs are the lowest percentage of income in human history, around 10 percent. In reality, 100 years ago, how much of human effort was devoted to acquiring food? 80 percent or so?

Food, as well as clean water and air, are taken for granted. I hope this changes before people find out in a catastrophic way, what's REALLY important for life!
ImageKathleen
Jun 8, 2010 6:27 AM CST
Name: Kathleen Tenpas
Wickwire Corners NY
I'm working on a letter to the editor of the Jamestown paper and one to the legislators. Stan has already talked to one, but it was like preaching to the choir, he's the one guy who is a farmer. I don't think they really have any idea of how important Coop. ext. is and especially now when there are a bunch of new to farming folks out there trying to get it right.
ImageDorothy
Jun 8, 2010 6:31 AM CST
Name: Dorothy
ADK mountains
We NEED more farms and locally grown food. Here in the Adirondacks there is very little farming knowledge left, yet at one time the area did support farming.

Because it's a unique challenge to farm here, there needs to be local knowledge base.

I have no background in farming, and am at present just a gardener, but whatever I learn is shared among like minded friends, lest we completely lose the ability to understand how to feed ourselves.

There is no Home Ec anymore either. Kids don't learn to cook, to sew a button on, much less to can or preserve. I believe this is an extremely myopic way to go forward. Is everyone supposed to be a computer programmer? What if the power goes off?
porkpal
Jun 8, 2010 8:18 AM CST
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
We do indeed need new farmers, and those to educate them. When I go to the programs put on by our Extension Service (which is quite good by the way) the average age of the farmers/ranchers there is at least 60. What's next?
Porkpal
mermaid
Jun 8, 2010 4:49 PM CST
Kathleen, did they give any reason why they voted to discontinue the funding for the cooperative extension and 4H?
Is your current legislation made up solely of folks with no farming background? Do they perhaps do not really understand the value of what these groups provide or do you think this is a political move towards getting rid of small producers (eg, they don't like folks being independent)?

Our nation's cooperative extension programs are very much needed with the current state of the economy.
I agree that Home Economics should be brought back as a mandatory class for *all* students.
Technology is great for many things but you can't eat it!
ImageKathleen
Jun 9, 2010 4:48 AM CST
Name: Kathleen Tenpas
Wickwire Corners NY
There is a movement in the county legislature to cut costs. They want to cut the number of legislators, which would leave us (farmers) with even less representation than we have now. Apparently, they haven't given the income brought into the county through farms any thought at all.
ImageKathleen
Jun 11, 2010 3:58 PM CST
Name: Kathleen Tenpas
Wickwire Corners NY
This is the letter that I sent to the local paper and will be sending to all the legislators and the county executive:

To the Editor:

The recent proposal to do away with funding to Cornell Cooperative Extension and the 4H program is incredibly short sighted. It is akin to doing away with funding for industrial development and tourism.

Chautauqua County has the highest density of farms in New York State. The total value of sales for all agricultural products in the county in the 2007 Census of Agriculture totaled well over $100 million. The average size of the farms is 142 acres, small family owned family operated farms. This means that the farmer is on the farm working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It doesn’t leave much time to attend conferences and conventions to learn the newest information on farming in the most economical, ecological way.

Here in Chautauqua County we are blessed with a very enthusiastic group of people who bring the information we need to the farm. Our Extension Educators are all familiar with family farm operations and know our area’s weather, soils and products. This gives them the ability to bring together the information that we, the farmers need.

In this era of the “locavore”, where it becomes more and more important to know where your food comes from and how it was raised, Chautauqua County has the agricultural basis to supply most of its food needs.

Please reconsidered the necessity of the funding for CCE, which is part of a matching fund arrangement from both state and federal agencies.



Stan and Kathleen Tenpas
North Clymer, NY


What I didn't say was that for a county with such a high percentage of small farms, we are still in the top 100 dairy counties in the US (99, we've slipped a bit) and that we are the number 1 grape producing county in NYS.

Who knows, maybe someone will listen.


mermaid
Jun 11, 2010 6:35 PM CST
Have you considered contacting the 'locavore'/slowfood/real food etc groups that would be affected by the loss of farms in your area (eg "serviced by your county's farms")? They may be able to help you mount a persuasive letter writing or phone call campaign with your county's legislators.

Here is an interesting "Value and Economic Impact" page from Brown County, WI.
If you can find or put together something similar for your county, it might help drive the point home to the folks holding the purse strings. Your county extension agent might already have a similar document.
http://www.browncountydairypromotions.com/agriculture_value_...

Here is a similar analysis from Sheboygan County extenstion:
http://www.sheboygan.uwex.edu/ag/dairy/documents/SheboyganCo...

Here's one more from the New York State Senate! Have you let your state senators know what you county folks are trying to do?
http://www.nysenate.gov/files/pdfs/Food For Thought V2.6 (fi...).pdf


It would be interesting to get the supporting data/study behind this statement: "Each dairy cow generates around $15,000 to $17,000 of economic activity"

I've seen a few variations on this figure and it is quoted often, though usually not referenced/footnoted.

The figure appears again in this article from the San Jose newspaper. Other states are trying to woo the California dairy farmers into moving their operations.
Quoting:Mike Meissen, vice president for value added agriculture for the Iowa Area Development Group, estimated each dairy cow has an economic impact of $15,000 a year.

"So if a thousand cows go into a county, that's $15 million," said Meissen, whose group is made up of rural electric cooperatives that work to bring new business to Iowa.

http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_14866535?nclick_che...

How many cows are in your county? How many millions would be lost if those cows moved somewhere else?
Maybe that will make them take notice.

Good luck!
[Last edited Jun 11, 2010 6:39 PM CST]
Quote | Post #263605 (9)
ImageKathleen
Jun 12, 2010 6:15 AM CST
Name: Kathleen Tenpas
Wickwire Corners NY
Thanks for all that information. The $15,000 value of each cow has been kicking around in several publications. When the University of Wisconsin did the study in 2002, they said $13,737 so I am very willing to believe that in the past eight years there has been at least that much increase, probably more. These girls are high maintainence.

We are a small county, our population is 133,789 in 2008, and it tends to decrease rather than increase. There is a budget deficit as in all of NYS. It's easy to think that CCE doesn't really matter that much. If I can help it, they will be educated.
ImageKathleen
Aug 24, 2010 10:41 AM CST
Name: Kathleen Tenpas
Wickwire Corners NY
When we got the Extension newsletter this month, it had an 'interim director'', the director from the next county. It looks like in an attempt to save the funding and save some money the director left, on way or the other.

Soil and Water will very likely lose most of its funding. Six of one, half dozen of the other.
mamajack
Dec 1, 2010 10:51 AM CST
Name: barb allison
Fate, Texas zone 8a
just want to follow this thread. hello folks.

explain what you said on the cows.......15,000.00.........that's the profit made per cow per year? not that the actual farmer gets it all but someone does? or that's what it cost the farmer per year per cow?
ImageKathleen
Dec 1, 2010 2:33 PM CST
Name: Kathleen Tenpas
Wickwire Corners NY
That's the amount of income to the area that each cow is worth - feed dealers, machinery dealers, vets, hoof trimmers, electricity company, state taxes, etc. No, not the farmer! Hmm, I could probably get a figure for that.

Two Extension agents were here today, and it is looking like they will both keep their jobs. The director left and we now share directors with the next county over. Huge savings in salary. the city legislators were made to see the need and so there are cut backs but not cut outs.
mamajack
Dec 1, 2010 3:46 PM CST
Name: barb allison
Fate, Texas zone 8a
kathleen..............what do you know about monsanto? if this is the wrong thread please take me to the right one. i am very interested in hearing both sides on this one.

and congrats to your ext. agents and your county. i really don't know why people in THE COMPUTER WORLD, and the MANUFACTURING WORLD.......forget that nothing else is worth much if you ain't got no beans. ultimately beans is the most important thing there is. that and water.
ImageKathleen
Dec 2, 2010 8:37 AM CST
Name: Kathleen Tenpas
Wickwire Corners NY
mamajack, I looked up the Dairy Farm business Report from Cornell University. In a sample of intensively grazing farms, the income per cow for the year 2009 with appreciation was $24. Without appreciation, it was -$857. For the average non-grazing farm the average was with appreciation -$180. Without appreciation, $-20,355. This is based on 27 intensively grazing farms and 82 non-grazing farms in New York State. 2009 was a particularly bad year for dairy farmers.

As to Monsanto, you could start a new thread. What are your questions? Monsanto has a history of being less than concerned about their consumers and the world and has had their fingers in a lot of bad pies.
mamajack
Dec 2, 2010 12:18 PM CST
Name: barb allison
Fate, Texas zone 8a
24.00?!!! are you saying that the rancher makes only 24.00 per cow per year? i ain't too smart kathleen and don't really get what you mean by "appreciation".

what's the difference in a grazing farm and a nongrazing farm?


i know they do but surely monsanto has a point of view. and there are other people who agree with them. else we wouldn't be having this conversation, right?

when i read what they are doing i am horrified. and it also horrifies me to know that the world in general and americans in particular are allowing it through either ignorance or indifference. but maybe i am wrong. maybve i am the ignorant one. maybe it's a good thing to have food that humans created. because the world's population needs to eat. and it's better to eat "created" food than no food.
ImageKathleen
Dec 2, 2010 2:30 PM CST
Name: Kathleen Tenpas
Wickwire Corners NY
To be honest, I don't get the appreciation/non-appreciation either. Yep, last year, the lucky dairy farmers made $24 a cow. There are way more that were in the -$20,000 ballpark. We knew some people who were borrowing between $50,000 and $100,000 a month to feed their herds. Granted, these were the big guys, but even some of the small farms were borrowing huge amounts to buy feed and fuel.

The grazing farm is one on which the cattle are turned out to graze between milkings, as cattle do. Non-grazing dairies, or confinement dairies, are those that keep the cattle in a shed or yard between milkings and bring all of the feed to them. Confinement dairies have more control over the total nutritional value of the feed given the cows. Grazing dairies have the advantage of feed that is natural to the animal. All organic dairies have to graze at least 6 months of the year. Not all grazing diaries are organic. We graze, but are not an organic dairy. To be certified organic requires a 3 year certification program and only certified organic inputs: feed, fertilizers, soaps and sanitizers etc.

I have to be honest, what I know about Monsanto makes me highly suspect that their side of the story would even be truthful. From what I've seen, they are a company that has grown so big so fast that they feel above both actual law and decency. I think a lot of what they do, they do because they can and then let someone else clean up the mess they leave after moving on to a new project. They seem to be a world wide abuser of science run rampant.
mamajack
Dec 2, 2010 7:17 PM CST
Name: barb allison
Fate, Texas zone 8a
well see on monsanto that's the thing...............if what i am reading is true........why are not ALL americans up in arms? why do americans not care? if foreign newspapers can be believed OTHER COUNTRIES don't want this genetic crap anywhere near. fields were burned in india i think when it was discovered that whole fields were tainted with genetic engineered plants.

and also...........why the heck is the fact that plants are genetic engineered not put on our danged food labels. i want to know about that. more than i want to know what the fat content is i can tell you that. and the reason i can find is that monsanto made it so. do they have pictures of our politician's in comprising situations and therefore that is why they get what they want. Big Grin and if the video.......THE FUTURE OF FOOD.....can be believed it sounds like to me that monsanto has people who work for monsanto awhile and then they get appointed to some government job and sometimes after that they go back to work at monsanto.

who is for monsanto? i want to talk to that person.
porkpal
Dec 2, 2010 11:11 PM CST
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
I'm not for Monsanto, but I'm not necessarily against genetically engineered crops either. We have always used selective breeding of plants and animals to "improve" them. This is just another slant on the same theme.
Porkpal
mamajack
Dec 3, 2010 10:09 AM CST
Name: barb allison
Fate, Texas zone 8a
but porkpal it's a LOT different to choose the biggest and the best from a litter of pups or cows or green beans than it is to take out parts of genes and then reinsert with other genes, right?

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